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Cape Verde game could make or break SA's World Cup campaign

01 September 2017 - 07:33 By MARC STRYDOM
Bafana Bafana are in Cape Verde for the first game on September 1‚ before they host their opponents in Durban four days later.
Bafana Bafana are in Cape Verde for the first game on September 1‚ before they host their opponents in Durban four days later.
Image: Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana's 2018 World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde in Praia on Friday night might turn out to be one of the most important games they have ever faced.

A win for South Africa on the artificial surface of the 15000-seater Estadio Nacional de Cabo Verde (kickoff: 8.30pm South African time) will dash Cape Verde's already slim World Cup hopes.

Bafana would then be confident of the return victory in Durban on Tuesday.

Two wins would leave South Africa in the driving seat of their first World Cup qualification since 2002.

That qualification would confirm a turnaround in South African football, and the emergence of a generation with the potential to replace the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning and 2002 World Cup-qualifying sides.

It is no wonder Stuart Baxter has cautioned against getting ahead of ourselves.

The Bafana coach admitted after his first training session in Praia that winning this match would set the tone in Group D.

"Yes, it will. If we win this and then we only take a point at home, we throw it away. So, every game is vital now.

"We need to be here and now, super present, and make sure that we bite off this next challenge, which is Cape Verde."

Baxter got just about everything right - from research of the opposition to a tailor-made game plan practised in training - in his first major match, which was also Bafana's first competitive win against Nigeria.

The coach said he had attempted to replicate the formula from that Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo in June for the trip to the tiny island nation.

"One of the main things we had going for us for Nigeria was that we had such a buzz. So, I think, looking at that we were trying to recreate the same sort of feeling."

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